The northern plains of the USA are largely shutting down ahead of a major winter storm that could dump up to 2 feet of snow in some areas. This storm will be accompanied by strong winds and dangerously cold temperatures. There were many school closures for Wednesday, ahead of the storm, across the Dakotas, Minnesota, and Wisconsin. In addition to offices closing, the Minnesota Legislature will not reconvene until Monday, according to AP.
The snow and fierce winds have caused emergency management officials to warn people that they might experience a “whiteout.” Later this week, the storm will make its way to the East Coast. It is possible for places that do not receive snow to get dangerous amounts of ice. Forecasters expect up to a half-inch of ice in some areas of southern Michigan, northern Illinois and some eastern states.
A snowfall of this magnitude could be historic, even in a region used to heavy snowfalls. National Weather Service officials said up to 25 inches of snow could accumulate, with the heaviest amounts falling in east-central Minnesota and west-central Wisconsin. There are forecasts for wind gusts to reach 50 mph in parts of the Dakotas and Minnesota, and wind chills to reach minus 50 degrees.
Minneapolis and St. Paul are expected to get more than 2 feet of snow for the first time in 30 years. As the weather closed in, some families scrambled to finish their shopping before it got too cold. Molly Schirmer stocked up at Costco in St. Louis Park, a Minneapolis suburb, on heat-and-serve dinners and Mexican Coca-Colas, knowing that she might get stuck at home with her two teenagers.
According to the weather service, there will be two rounds of blizzards. As for the Minneapolis-St. Paul area, up to 7 inches of snow are expected by Wednesday afternoon. It is expected that an additional 10 to 20 inches will fall during Round 2 on Wednesday and Thursday. According to Frank Pereira, a meteorologist with the weather service, about 43 million Americans are likely to be affected by the system.
Temperatures in Grand Forks, North Dakota could plunge to minus 15 to minus 20 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 26 to minus 29 degrees Celsius) on Thursday and to minus 25 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 32 degrees Celsius) on Friday. The temperature in Grand Forks may drop to minus 50 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 46 degrees Celsius), according to Nathan Rick, a meteorologist.